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November 1997
Vol. 1 No. 2 Page 11

We Do Not Want Evaluated Routes
by Thom Green

The following comment and reply was taken from the rural carriers postal talk forum on America On Line. It exposes the thought that things are all rosy on the rural side such as the United States Postal Service is trying to lead us to believe. Postal management has tried to con the National Association of Letter Carriers into accepting a delivery structure similar to that of the rural routes in this country.

President Vincent R. Sombrotto has repeatedly said "no" to any type of a delivery plan that would customize the job to eliminate a pay structure based on an hourly wage. Management contends that such a structure would end the daily carrier vs. management confrontations taking place on the work room floor.

In its report, Postal Service Labor - Management Relations (GAO/GGD-94-201B Volume II) the Government Accounting Office (Congress' investigative arm), wrote:

"In contrast to city carriers, rural carriers' workdays are not subject to strict controls and rules. They are expected to deliver all the mail each day rather than work a set number of hours. They do not have to negotiate daily with supervisors regarding the time it will take to complete mail casing or delivery. We were told that supervisors' primary interaction with rural carriers is a walk-through in the morning to see if the carriers have any concerns or questions." (Page 77)

This may be so, but the comments below belie that claim, and Jim Edgemon, Director of City Delivery, NALC, in speaking to more than 420 NALC members during the Kentucky-Indiana-Michigan (K-I-M Region) Fall Training Seminar, October 13, 1997 said, "Delivery cost in the carrier craft is the biggest expenditure of any expenditure the Postal Service has. In trying to persuade the NALC into buying into a rural carrier system they can plan their budget almost a year in advance, predict what the costs will be. They can't do that in the carrier craft."

The Comment

I have to say, this is a subject that really needs the National Office's (NRLCA office) attention. The day after a holiday is always a dreaded one and can vary in how severe the "price" that is paid for the regular or sub coming in to carry.

If you look at the city side, you will see employees getting paid to carry, are throwing back all bulk the first day and carrying out the preferred mail while OTHER PTF's case this bulk mail for the next day.

This says a lot to me since it is clear that on "L" type routes, we spend about four additional hours getting the non-preferred or Bulk Business Mail out the door. Most Rural carriers will take about one-half their bulk with them since the wraparounds help in the one bundle system.

It is the casing equipment and the limits in how much you can stuff in a two and three inch separations that cause us to leave the rest of the bulk mail that day.

So what I am saying is not only are we taking out the bulk mail, for as much as four extra hours of work, we are also having to work an extra two to four hours later in the week to get the excess bulk out.

A prudent supervisor will realize that he or she will be incurring more hours against office time if substitutes work this mail. If regulars work this mail the regulars eat the hours and it only affects them in the 2080 . Now it is to the manager's advantage to have regulars work and keep substitutes out.

Because of this "arrangement" how will the union get the management to accept a change that incurs more costs? Next Column

Well, one way is to show that the average regular has to arrive out on the route two hours late, and that's if they skip their lunch.

People don't like their mail late, but they have grown accustomed to getting their mail late. So CSI scores still drop some. Having subs come in if they want to work on the holiday for straight pay does make sense. Some local offices have that arrangement already and the office does better as well as the customer service. It is the sheer volume that still makes that mail delivered later than most days. Even with the help on holidays the regular still has to take out 150-200 parcels of all sizes, and accountables and regular mail.

Perhaps, we need some split where the subs work on the holiday for three to four hours casing and the day after the holiday carrying some or all of the parcels for two to four hours. Gee, that makes an 8 hour day together...hummmmm.

Maybe you just can't give two days work and expect everyone to do it in one day. Ok so I am being a fly in the ointment, just remember that we get paid for what we do and holiday day-after have never been calculated within our payment system.

The UNION needs to explain why we have been in a coma about this issue and why it has increased as our routes have changed. L routes deserve relief, but what would be fair? Management wants a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. So should we. We should sue for it if the Union balks. Two day's work cannot be made up in one day. The Postal Service wants us to do it that way, but then, they say that the rest of the week is lighter and we can do a little each day until the three days are up. (since BBM has a 3 day limit) Trouble is that it just does not even out.

City carriers get overtime pay while we slave, literally, to get all the mail out in two days so we can have a normal end of the week. Not too many can beat their time on a holiday week, and if they can they are the exception and are speed demons that often misdeliver or "lose" mail in the process.(as in misplaced parcels or misplaced hold mail).

I am for relief, just make sure it takes in all the types of routes, fairly helps everyone, and holds to fair day for fair pay. Give us your ideas...inquiring minds want to know!

The Reply

In our office, the day after a holiday, we rurals have to clean up, and aux help is unheard of in this office for rurals. All the city carriers get help and curtail, but not us. This means at least a 12 hour day. (And management will NOT swallow its pride and let us report early) In fact, it recently (due to DPS) made us start reporting 30 minutes later (7:45).

The only thing management will not let us do, is to work over 12 hours to case afternoon mail. I would gladly give the Union and management all my holidays(I think 11) for an extra seven days annual leave each year. Cut the holidays out except for New Years, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and maybe July 4th.

Why can we not go ahead and carry the mail on the other holidays and have an extra annual leave day somewhere down the road instead of having to work two days for one. This is another example of "built-in overtime" or "you get paid for it" is a bunch of BS.

Thom is a member of NALC Branch 116
Fort Wayne, Indiana and the Editor of Contracts & Conflicts.

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